Today, we take the journalistic equivalent of a bag skate.
That is, let’s empty out the notebook from observations gleaned from two-plus months on the North Shore hockey circuit as we get ready for the playoff seedings to come out this weekend.
No player had scored more than two points in a game against Beverly this season. That is, until junior center Mike Vadala had a career outing two days ago by netting a goal and dishing out three assists in the Tanners’ colossal 5-3 upset of the previously unbeaten Panthers. Vadala was terrific on the forecheck and created his chances off that, getting into space and giving himself time to create.
If you’re a fan of numerology — or hockey bloodlines — then you’ll love this. The three Koopman brothers skating for Marblehead this winter (Tom, Kyle and Matt Koopman) combined on a goal in the Headers’ 13-1 pasting of Salem last weekend. Tom, a junior captain, got the goal, while Matt (a freshman center) and Kyle (freshman defenseman) earned the apples. But what really made it interesting was that it was Marblehead’s 11th goal of the night, and it came at 11:11 of the third period.
The Zamboni hadn’t begun to make new ice Monday afternoon, and already folks who follow the Beverly High hockey program were saying the Panthers’ loss to Peabody could wind up being a good thing in the long run. Naturally, it’s better to suffer a setback late in the regular season (after the Northeastern Conference title had already been decided, and when it doesn’t affect you in the playoff seedings) than a week from now come state tournament time. Just as importantly, I think it gives Beverly a chance to not only self-evaluate and go about fixing their mistakes (giving up odd-man rushes, too many guys trying to beat defenders 1-on-1, playing better in the face of adversity), but also to let the acrid taste of that loss sit in their collective guts for a few days ... so that they despise the feeling so much they do everything in their power to avoid it the rest of the season.